A half-dozen immigration officers enter a factory and demand identification. The workers inside look up from their sewing machines in horror.
What would you do? What can you do?
This was the first scenario posed to a crowd of 50 at a “Know Your Rights” workshop hosted by Junta for Progressive Action Saturday morning, one of many workshops and rallies held across the country on a National Immigrant Day of Action.
The workshop, conducted mostly in Spanish at Fair Haven School, guided audience members through their constitutional rights in the face of immigration officials. It is the first in a series of workshops regarding immigration and deportation that the organization is holding in light of the presidential election.
Junta’s Ana Maria Rivera-Forastieri and Mary Elizabeth Smith led a discussion through a video of various scenarios in which undocumented immigrants face police pressure: ICE officials knocking at your doorstep; getting pulled over by a cop; a raid at the aforementioned workshop.
The rights outlined are simple on paper: If cops show up at your home, don’t just open the door. Ask if they have a warrant, and make sure the warrant has 1) your name, spelled correctly and 2) the signature of a federal judge. Otherwise, don’t let them in.
If you’re pulled over, the only piece of information you have to give is your name. You don’t have to answer any other questions. And don’t carry fake papers — or your passport — on your body.
While some attendees asked questions, others in the seats shared their own memories of close run-ins with immigration officials.
Fatima Rojas, the event’s translator, offered her own take culled from experience (though not the advice a lawyer would give you, she acknowledged): Don’t open the door, period. Even if the warrant is right.
Of course, in the moment, you might get nervous. You might forget your rights.
Smith flashed a small red, laminated card to the audience. On one side, the card reminds the holder of her rights; on the other are a set of statements to be presented to a police officer which exercises the holder’s Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights (see above). Everyone received a card.
Not Just For Adults
Some of the workshop’s youngest teachers were in fact students themselves: seven Fair Haven 6th graders taught by David Weinreb, whose bilingual class consists of kids who’ve moved to the U.S. in the last three years.
The budding thespians played out three confrontational scenarios they themselves had written and staged, set in a car, a workplace and a courtroom. (Watch one above.)
In what Rivera-Forastieri referred to as the Theatre of the Oppressed, the students were acting out situations that could feasibly happen to them and their families. That is to say, they were working through the reality they live in. They’ve built up the skits through a nonfiction unit in class, learning about immigration law and visiting city hall.
Stacy Salazar (pictured), who played a lawyer in the courtroom skit, said through a translator that although she felt a little nervous, she was excited to be up on stage. Through her class, she’s learned that in the face of immigration officials, it’s important to remain calm and learn your rights — and she’s inspired to become a lawyer in real life, too.
These are lessons students bring home and share with their parents. “Parents listen to their kids,” Rivera-Forastieri said.
“This is one piece of the puzzle,” Weinreb (pictured) said of the skits. “My students are working on all fronts … to be able to include them in adult conversations [and] have them be voices of expertise is extremely powerful.”
A second workshop, to be held on Feb. 4, will delve deeper into the logistical concerns of those who might be facing deportation — such as finding a lawyer and figuring out what to do with property or family in which the children are U.S. citizens.
Thank you , thank you for this article. When and where is the next meeting and are we sure there are not ice in the audience taking names? Do we have any idea what they will do with families that have underage children that are citizens? This is all so upsetting. Where do I get those red cards?
posted by: LookOut on January 15, 2017 3:19pm
is there someone with constitutional knowledge who can answer the question of which constitutional rights apply to those who who here but who are not citizens. I’m sure that their list of rights is different (for instance, they cannot vote) but I would also think that some other right (free speech, for instance) do apply. So where is the line drawn?
posted by: Timothy G. ORourke Jr. on January 16, 2017 5:12am
Hello, As far as the red cards are concerned, I would advise against using the object personal pronoun *my*, as by so doing the hypothetical suspect would be falsely claiming that he is a citizen and is therefore entitled to the protection of the Constitution. If it is found out that he is not, this deception would compromise his situation even further.
posted by: robn on January 16, 2017 5:04pm
The following text from the 5th and 14th amendments apply to anyone (citizen or non-citizen) on US territory. I’ve shortened the text with ellipses for brevity. Notice that they both give legal (constitutional) protection under the law; that law including election law which specifies who can and cannot vote.
Amendment V No person …. shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.
Amendment XIV Section 1. .... nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
posted by: Timothy G. ORourke Jr. on January 16, 2017 6:33pm
RobN (and Lookout), What you write is true but was not intended to be by the Framers. It has been extended to mean all persons with the doctrine of the living interpretation. Given the hostility towards Illegals, I fear such aggressive claims to due process will give them exactly that, along with a Constitutional Amendment et al that will clear the ambiguity forever. In other words, showing a public official, who already suspects that he is doing something illegal, the red card will only convince the official that he is. The official would then be compelled to find another way. Perhaps, holding the Illegal indefinitely until his identification could be established. Conversely, a citizen would be more than happy to give his identification to an official and would not be compelled to claim a right to the Constitution in order to hide his identity. I think that we are being unjust to Illegals when we claim that they have the rights of citizens when if they were citizens with which to begin they would not even have to claim the rights you cited to protect themselves. It seems to me that the law of non-contradiction is being violated. In any case, we must honestly prepare our neighbors for the reality that some form of immigration reform is going to be passed into law during the next administration.
posted by: robn on January 17, 2017 1:18pm
The Constitution is crystal clear. It distiguishes between “citizens” meaning citizens of the US and “persons” meaning everybody, including citizens of the US. The 14th amendment was written in 1868 and, since we just went through a civil war arguing about something that should have already been obvious, served to emphatically validate something already contained in the 5th (written by the framers a centruy earlier).
posted by: Timothy G. ORourke Jr. on January 17, 2017 2:54pm
Hello Rob, Yes, you are correct again. This time as to the XIV Amendment being outside of the bounds of the time in which the Framers were alive. However, your citation of Section 1 was truncated. Immediately before your citation, a person, as applicable here, is defined as one who is born or naturalized in the United States, hence making him a citizen. That one word *person* has been the cause of much debate. The equal protection clause has been interpreted at various times in various ways creating case law through the evolving understanding that some would have the Constitution be a living document. Whatever your views are on that, my point is that by pushing what the government’s likely stance is going to be in the near future, you are only guaranteeing that illegal immigrants are indeed going to more quickly get the due process under the law to which they are entitled. Rather than aggressively claiming that right, which is likely only going to be interpreted as antagonistic, we need to prepare ourselves for the fact that immigration reform is finally here. By inciting a government that may have a policy of a least some removal, you make that removal greater in the end. Do you really want to push this upcoming Administration?
posted by: InsideNout on January 17, 2017 8:47pm
What happens to the kids? Many of them are born here and therefore are US citizens. Their parents get taken away. Watch the documentary “abUSed: the Postville raid” to see what happens to kids. 10 minute trailer on Vimeo gives you a good idea of the horror. Helpers were called in from all over—after all it is rural America—to place kids in foster care, DCF or whatever the agency was in Iowa. Kids were traumatized, ICE dumped the care of the families who lost their breadwinners, onto the churches in the area, who worked mightily but after all, it was a town of 2,000 or so, how much in resources does a place like that have? The children particularly suffered terribly.
The raid was so poorly thought through. Then they decided to keep some of the undoc. Workers in the USA, to testify against their bosses—-and ICE did not want to pay to support them, so they gave Work Permits so they could pay for their own care while awaiting time to testify in court! How ironic is that!
We purport to be a culture affirming families, but ICE certainly does not.
posted by: InsideNout on January 17, 2017 8:49pm
Maybe some of us should get certified for foster care now, in preparation. Think about it.
posted by: Timothy G. ORourke Jr. on January 18, 2017 5:58am
Dear InsideNout, Your valid heartfelt pleas bring up a wonderful opportunity for me to address an underlying if esoteric idea in my posts. Rather than trying to hide those who may be affected or look for legal means by which to evade justice, perhaps illegal immigrants could take the brave concerted step to take away the power that comes from those who are seeking justice against them by being entirely open as to who they are and what they have done. If immigration reform is going to occur, and the people in question know they are here illegally, why not band together in public solidarity in that reality and put the public responsibility on the government to humanely address a condition that it bears equal responsibility for letting occur? One gains more favor with a repentant position rather than a defiant one.
posted by: concerned_neighbor on January 18, 2017 9:42am
Illegal immigration is a complex question.
A few things are clear: (1) law enforcement will always appear with overwhelming force, any physical resistance is unwise. (2) taking legal advice from this “event coordinator” is a bad idea. (3) following the instructions on this red laminated card is likely to cause more trouble for anyone caught up in a raid - simply exercising your right to remain silent works wonders. (4) showing the warrant to the tenant or homeowner is not required, neither is a correct spelling of a name, resisting such will lead to force being applied to breech the door and subdue the occupants.
Do you want to avoid deportation? Assimilate. Learn English. Adopt a moderate dress. Avoid flashy automobiles. Leave the ethnic ghetto. Apply for residency.
posted by: InsideNout on January 18, 2017 7:55pm
Apply for residency? If ONLY it was that easy. Our country has quota limits on many countries—if you are number 3002 after 3000 from your country have been approved for visas, too bad. Immigration is years behind on approving visas and residency permits. If you go back to your country, you might wait for years to get another chance. There are MANY blocks to residency status that our country has put in place. Just take for example our neighbors from Caribbean islands. Some small islands have no quota at all—others like Jamaica have a yearly quota. (Often the nations with quotas, are left from a time in the past when people from those places were considered “less desirable.”) It is not just a matter of paperwork, to “apply for residency.” There is also a visa lottery, but check the numbers—again, he chances of actually getting a visa and permission to immigrate to the USA, are very low.
posted by: InsideNout on January 18, 2017 8:01pm
@ORourke: Dreamers have been doing just that for years, as have many others. There are far more undocumented persons who are willing to be named, than there were 5 or 10 years ago. (It amazes me, because I have watched this shift over time.) Strength in numbers. Unfortunately, many victims of deportation, persecution, and genocide, thought the same.
posted by: Timothy G. ORourke Jr. on January 19, 2017 7:55am
Thanks InsideNout, I would rejoin that deportation is not morally tantamount to persecution and genocide. The government has a legitimate claim to deport those who are here illegally while no government has the right to persecute a group of people let alone systematically kill them. Moreover, the countries to which illegal immigrants belong have a right to claim their allegiance. I think the consideration here is how the government deports people. My point is that illegal immigrants will have a better chance of humane treatment if they openly reveal their situation. Moreover, what a relief it could be for them to no longer live under house arrest. In the end, less people, if any, would be deported if illegal immigrants were entirely open and not deceptive. I should also add that while it is always wrong for an arresting officer of a government to violate a suspected perpetrator’s human rights it is also morally incumbent upon the suspected perpetrator to mitigate that possibility for his children’s benefit by not deceptively denying a government’s right to ascertain his situation. Moreover, a claim could be made against the City of New Haven if someone, either illegal immigrant or arresting officer, was hurt during an arrest. The City of New Haven has offered illegal immigrants freedom that it was not free for them to offer and at a price that actually makes them prisoners in their own homes. But that reveals the contradiction offered. They are not their homes.
posted by: 1644 on January 19, 2017 9:00pm
Sittin’ and starin’ out of the hotel window Got a tip they’re gonna kick the door in again I’d like to get some sleep before I travel, But if you got a warrant, I guess you’re gonna come in.*
I would be very interested in hearing about the “experience” the speaker had in which opening the door was worse than not opening it when there it a proper warrant.